“Love Rebuilds” by Pastor Alli Munsey

January 13th, 2019

Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace. ” I also told them about the gracious hand of my God on me and what the king had said to me. They replied, “Let us start rebuilding.” So they began this good work. But when Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite official and Geshem the Arab heard about it, they mocked and ridiculed us. “What is this you are doing?” they asked. “Are you rebelling against the king?” I answered them by saying, “The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.” - Nehemiah 2:17-20 (NIV)

When you live a life of love, it always serves to build the lives around you into a greater narrative. Nehemiah had nothing to gain politically from this wall. When a nation’s walls were in ruin, they had no pride; they were in reproach. Nehemiah wasn't near Jerusalem but he had a burden for it. He prayed for four months about the wall before he spoke a word about it.

The practice of prayer is very important in our lives when it comes to the plan of God and what he has for us to do. Nehemiah practiced the presence of prayer daily. Jesus teaches us how to pray using the Lord’s prayer. He instructs us to focus first on God, rather than on our own needs. When we acknowledge his power and authority, it postures us in the right position to receive from God.

Nehemiah built on prayer. Prayer is a prerequisite before you can do big things for God. God orders our steps when we submit our plans to him.

Any godly vision always includes others. Nehemiah had a heart for people. When you operate out of the gospel narrative, you give not to benefit yourself but to benefit others. When you build on love, you realize that the whole reason we exist is to be a light and a love to others.

The very purpose of light is to illuminate the dark, to help you see where you’re going. Nehemiah lived his life with the light of love. He lived his life in a way that inspired others to follow. A God-sized vision always includes space for people to come along the journey. If your vision is not inclusive of love, it's not inclusive of God.

If the light of love isn’t on, no one’s going to know if anyone’s home. When we have all these gifts and talents, it doesn’t hold eternal weight if it’s not rooted in love (1 Corinthians 13:1-7). It's not about what we do but who we impact.

Love will always keep the light on for you.

A love that builds is one that is considerate of others (Romans 15:1-3). Think of building kingdoms, not castles. A castle is built to house one family; a kingdom is built with space for many people. God doesn't just want us to see things from the top level of a castle but from the ground level of grace.

We can do great things for God when we don't care who gets the credit. Nehemiah wasn't looking for what he could get out of building the wall. He approached the project with inclusivity and humility. Love builds but pride tears down.

Oftentimes consideration of others requires us to be inconvenienced. Sometimes the blessing that we prayed for becomes a burden--it becomes inconvenient. When you trust God, you can lean into the pain because our pain leads us to our promise.

Our inconvenience could mean somebody else's freedom. Are we willing to be inconvenienced for somebody else to be set free? Growth always comes from a place of inconvenience. It's hard when you're comfortable to grow. It's the pain and growth that produces the oil you need for your light. Don’t run from the pain; lean into the pain.

Pure love doesn’t look to what they can get, but what they can give. You can give without loving, but you can't love without giving. Let’s give our lives to a greater cause, to the narrative of Jesus Christ.

A love that builds is one that does not keep score. A love that keeps score is a love that’s owed--that’s not love. Jesus gave himself out of love so that we didn't owe him anything. He doesn’t require anything from us, and he asks that we do the same with other people.

A love that builds is one that commits to seeing the vision fulfilled. In Nehemiah 3 we see all the people that were brought together to build the wall. Nehemiah inspired people because his vision was not just about him; this wall would benefit an entire nation.

A love that builds is a love that keeps its light on. In Leviticus 24 the Israelites all had a part to play in keeping the light on in the church. Your light being on is just as important as the church's light being on.

It takes oil to light the lamp, and olive oil comes from olives. If you were to squeeze an olive, you would just get white sap and bitterness. The way to get olive oil out is to crush them with a great weight in order to take the bitterness out.

Jesus was crushed for our iniquities to produce the healing oil for our lives. Are you willing to let God crush the areas of your life that you have hidden because you think it’s a weakness?

The oil comes from those places where in the past the enemy has told you that this is your weakness, and when you’re willing to give it back to God and let him crush it, then you’ll find that it’s your strength. Are you willing for God to crush the oil out of your lives in order to keep your light on? Your perceived weakness might just be your greatest strength.

Discussion/Reflection Questions:

  1. What kind of vision do you have for your life? Is it a God-sized vision that includes and benefits other people?

  2. How can you practice prayer that focuses first on God and submit your plans to him?

  3. Does the light of God’s love shine in your life?

  4. How is God asking you to grow in your love for him and for others?

  5. What are some areas of your life that God is pressing on to produce oil? Write down some things that you want to give back to God that are your perceived areas of weakness.